To get more referrals you have to ask for more referrals—it’s just that simple. Any marketing pro knows this. But, the problem is we ask for a referral in such a poor way the only answer we get from our referral source is, “Uhmm, yeah, sure, I’ll keep you in mind.”
One of the ‘7 Slight Edges’ is Ask Affirming Questions. This is a great slight edge because you can begin to apply it today and see a positive impact in your life and in your quest to gain more referrals. It’s the slight edge I get the most positive feedback about from past participants of my workshops.
When I graduated from the University of Minnesota I thought I was going to make my millions selling commercial real estate. When I left the University I got lucky and was hired by a very good—at the time—real estate company. During my time there I struggled month to month trying to find my way. Maybe it was my immaturity, maybe I was more interested in chasing girls or maybe I just wasn’t good at selling. But, I was really bad at it.
About nine months into my selling career, when the handwriting was on the wall, my manager told me I needed to say an affirmation every morning. He told me to look in the mirror and say aloud, “I’m the best salesman in the company. I’m the best salesman in the company. I’m the best salesman in the company.” Ten times every day. (BTW, this was 1986, we were still saying salesMAN then.) So, I did just that, every morning for about three months. Right up to the day I was fired. I wasn’t the best salesman in the company, in fact most months I was the worst. Something about saying that affirmation was like I was lying to myself. It worked out OK for me, from selling in real estate I went into a corporate training career and I’ve been here for 26 years.
About three years into my training career I was doing research into communication, specifically self-communication or self-talk. I read books by Tony Robbins and Dr. Maxwell Maltz who said the quality of your life mirrored the quality of your self-talk. Maltz said our bodies are designed to look for the answers to the questions we asked. The problem is we ask bad questions.
Think about this, maybe you’ve done this, I know I have. You’re sitting at the kitchen table and you have all of your bills spread out. Maybe you pay by phone, maybe you pay online or maybe you pay the old fashioned way and write a check. When you’re all done you look in your check registrar and you see there’s still some month left at the end of the money. And you ask yourself that very bad question, “Why am I always in debt?” Or, “Why do I live check to check?”
Robbins and Maltz says our bodies are designed to look for the answers so, when we ask “Why am I always in debt?” our bodies says, “Well, you’re maxed out on your credit cards, you only pay the minimum and everyday on your way to work you stop to buy a five dollar latte.” If I ask myself, “Why am I so fat?” My subconscious is going to answer, “Well Mark, you’re like the average American, you sit around watching three hours of TV every night eating Cheetos.”
Instead of my real estate manager telling me to make affirming statements, I should have been asking affirming questions. Instead of saying, I’m the best salesman in the company.” I should have been asking, “What is the best salesman in the company doing right now? Affirming questions are personal, positive, present-tense questions that look for solutions.
So let’s look at affirming questions as they relate to asking for referrals. The question you need to be asking should follow the rules of personal, positive, present-tense questions that look for solutions. So we shouldn’t ask, “You have anything for me?” Or, “You have any business you can send my way?” nothing in these two questions is personal, positive, present-tense that look for solutions.
Better questions are, “What can I do today to earn your business?” “What products or services can I provide to earn your business?” “What are you looking for in a closing company?” What these questions do is get your referral source talking—talking about what they need and want from you for their clients—how you can be of service, another slight edge.
Once you get the source talking and you hear how you can serve, the next question is the closing question. ”If I provide BLANK and BLANK for you, will you give me the opportunity to help your clients this month?”
Gaining more referrals require you to ask for them. But, remember to ask affirming questions.
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